Emma didn’t know how long he hid, silent and unmoving, in the large Victorian wardrobe to the side of her single bed. She didn’t know how long he peered out, salivating and drooling, between the two heavy dark oak doors, and watched, mesmerised, as she slowly drifted into fitful sleep. She didn’t know what time he pushed the doors open and crept towards her in the drab grey darkness of the night.
Detective Inspector Gravel finds himself floundering when a local nineteen-year-old university student is abducted and imprisoned by a sadistic serial killer, who has already tortured and killed five young women.
How far would you go to save your life?
This book completely freaked me out and that was just from looking at the fantastic and very creepy cover! It’s the clown that did it, they absolutely terrify me! There is no doubt about it author John Nicholl certainly knows how to write a darkly disturbing and hair-raising tale, in my opinion this is john Nicholl’s best book yet. The author pulls the reader in with a shocking and sinister opening chapter, it was so intense I just knew I was in for a hell of a read. A young student is abducted and imprisoned by a sadistic serial killer, and my god he’s one deviant and twisted individual, devoid of empathy, incapable of sympathy or understanding he torments his victims in the cruellest possible ways. The author portrays the serial killer so well I felt I was looking into the darkest corners of the human mind. There is another shocking character who is just as evil and twisted, and shocked me to the core with their antics, but if you want to know more about them you will have to read the book (no spoilers here). The characters are well developed, and although not necessarily likeable they added depth to a very intriguing read.
Not only do we get to know the serial killer during Portraits Of The Dead, we also get to learn about the victim and her time as a captive, although the way she was treated at times made for an uncomfortable read, it wasn’t particularly graphic but chilling never the less. As the investigation intensifies and police appeals are made, we do get to see glimpses of the police side of the investigation, again there were some great characters who appeared very credible in their investigation to find Emma and bring a killer to justice.
Despite working out who the killer was half way through the book, this in no way spoilt the novel for me, in fact it heightened the tension as you weren’t entirely sure what the killer would do next. The plot moves along at a steady pace with some shocks along the way, some of which I never saw coming, so this certainly added to my enjoyment of Portraits Of The Dead Just as you thought the author could not possibly have any more shocks in store for the reader, he hits you with the biggest one of all! By the time I reached the end of the novel I was well and truly struck dumb, the author managed to tie up the plot in a very original way, which I loved (sorry that’s all your getting, no spoilers remember!)
I’m afraid there is no way to avoid the cliché: I could not put this novel down! Disturbing and compelling, an edge-of-the-seat story. I would certainly recommend this book to crime lovers and anyone else who is looking for a gripping and darkly disturbing read. In my opinion John Nicholl’s is a fresh innovative and powerful new voice in crime fiction, and I hope he get’s the recognition he deserves as a crime author.
5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️out of 5
Publication date: 1st September 2016
You can read my reviews for John Nicholl’s other books which I would highly recommend, and an interview I did with him earlier in the year here…….
Links to John Nicholl’s other books, which I would highly recommend